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Looking at the Stars

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  125 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
Amina’s homeland has been ravaged by war for many months, but so far she and her family are safe, together. When a so-called liberating force arrives in the country, the family think their prayers for peace will soon be answered, but they are horribly wrong . . . The country is thrown into yet further turmoil and Amina’s family is devastated . . .

Through it all, Amina has
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published February 6th 2014 by Random House Children's Publishers (first published January 30th 2014)
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Community Reviews

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Rating details
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May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to DaydreamingHobi by: My mom :)

“The only way we can survive is to work together. Each of us must play our part. The minute we stand alone, we fall alone.”

This book blew me away. It left me angry that all of the characters had to suffer because a few greedy people did not want to maintain peace and resorted to war . It left me grateful that I have a good, normal, boring life with a safe place to live in and that I still have parents who love me. I hated Lemo and was heartbroken that he had to suffer something so cru

Rachel Hamilton
Mar 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Looking at the Stars is a book about life in Talas under ‘the glorious leader and his glorious Kwana army’, where women are considered inferior to men and where everyone is forced to wear badges indicating their class.

The story is told through the eyes of thirteen year old Amina, whose imagination offers hope in the darkness and whose voice cries out to be heard in a world where women are routinely suppressed and segregated.
In their different ways, Amina’s family all rebel against their oppressi
Apr 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: guest-reviews
Review by Beth 3.5/5

This novel is a chance to glimpse the horror of life in a seemingly developing company during a Civil War. I say seemingly as I found myself struggling with the concept that Looking at the Stars had no concrete sense of place – as someone interested in history and putting things in their correct places it did niggle at me throughout. I completely understand that the author was trying to make a point about how this type of event could and does happen in many different places b
Miss Cleveland
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014-books
A very worthy winner of the Coventry Inspiration Book Awards 2016, Hooked on Books category. My book group unanimously voted this as their winner, with all saying they had cried at various points in the story (including the boys).

The story follows Amena and her family through their lives in a civil war torn country, where girls are second class citizens and their headscarves tell their age, and later badges declare their social status. From a loving family home divided by political beliefs and a
Harj D
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
'Looking at the Stars' is an incredible story filled with desperation, hope, grief and kindness. Honestly, when I first picked this book up, I was not sure what I was expecting. The first chapter or two seemed to linger, not really captivating me as much as I thought it might but then when things began to get heated and war reached the doorstep of Amina's family, that is when things really began to move along.

Amina herself, as a main character was brave, imaginative and independent and for a you
Won ARC on Goodreads First Reads, thank you very much to Random House Children's UK.

A heart-wrenching and emotional story that will likely pull at your heartstrings and make you think about the events occurring in the world around us. The cover is lovely, it highlights the aspects of this story that you will truly remember: the strong and loving bond between two sisters and beautiful stories of the stars.

War has fallen upon Amina's homeland. So far her family has been safe however, when new l
Jan 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Warning: this book should come with tissues
Jan 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Honestly, this book was pretty great at first. The characters were slightly stereotypical, but they had heart. The way the relationship between Amina and Jenna was emphasised showed promise. The part when (view spoiler) shook me to the core. Moral ambiguity? Good. Jenna's development as a character? Good. Overall ideas of stories as a means of distraction and good ol' sisterly love? Good.

But there was one part of the plot that really damaged the book - (view sp
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is in every way staggering, yet relatable.
This book is so raw and real like nothing i’ve read before, i think from quite early on I realised that this book isn’t a book with an ending that sugar coats everything and shows just happiness.
It is so genuine, it shows everything.
And sometimes it hurt so much i felt emotionally drained that i wanted the writer for a page to just stop. To lie and write about rainbows and butterflies. Don’t get me wrong, because the way they let their imaginations b
Feb 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Looking at the Stars by Jo Cotterill is a beautiful story targeted at older children/young adults. It handles serious themes that most readers would not have, and hopefully never will, deal with.

Amina is thirteen years old living in a country where women have absolutely no power. Prohibited from going to school, she spends her days with her sister, Jenna, weaving baskets and rugs, which they sell to stool holders in the local market. The novel begins with the two girls witnessing the arrival of
Big Book Little Book
Jun 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Daisy (13) for Big Book Little Book
Copy received in exchange for an honest review.

I loved this book, it is so honest and innocent but at the same time it is powerful and heart-breaking.

Amina Ambrose lives in Talas, an unsteady Dictatorship country on an unknown continent. The army who run it are called the Kwana and it is starting to exploit its power over the people in Amina’s country. They have made rules in the country that are unjust, such as making females wearing headscarves and men havin
Katherine Sunderland
This is a really interesting novel about survival and what it is like to flee your own country and end up as a refugee. Cotterill has written a bold and important story which tells us the plight of Amina who lives in a developing country under an oppressive ruling "Kwana". It appears to be a fictional place and remains non specific which I did find a little confusing to start with but appreciate that Cotterill really wants to explore the human story behind the family's struggle rather than make ...more
LH Johnson
Oct 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Amina tells stories. She has an imagination, a powerful one, and it's been her companion throughout the war that has ravaged her country. Her family have felt the impact of this differently, but they are together. That is enough. That is enough to survive. But then things start to change, and slide horribly out of control and Amina's family life is shattered. Nothing will ever be the same again. Will Amina ever tell a story again? What's going to happen to her family?

I am reading some good, good
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“The only way we can survive is to work together. Each of us must play our part. The minute we stand alone, we fall alone.”

Amina’s homeland has been ravaged by war for many months, but so far she and her family are safe, together. When a so-called liberating force arrives in the country, the family think their prayers for peace will soon be answered, but they are horribly wrong . . . The country is thrown into yet further turmoil and Amina’s family is devastated . . .

Through it all, Amina has
Rebekah Johnson
Nov 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I won on Goodreads first reads and WOW!

I wasn't sure what to expect going into the book as in place of a summary there was a quote (though i do love it) but Looking at the Stars is an incredible read. Amina's struggle, physically and mentally, escaping from the dictatorship of her country and the Kwana was poignant and well delivered with subtly by Jo Cotterill (though i haven't read any of her others!) and although in the introducing chapters the Kwana was ,in some parts, over exaggerated to pl
Apr 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is about a girl called Amina. She has 1 elder sister, 1 elder brother, and 1 younger sister. She is a great storyteller, and stories come easily to her. Unfortunately, her family scolds her whenever she tells stories. They live in a country that is controlled by the Kwana. They have strict rules and if someone breaks them, bad things will happen to the whole family. One night, Amina's elder brother, Ruman, was told by his teacher that they should fight against the Kwana people. Amina's ...more
Rhian Ivory
Jul 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I am so pleased to have this wonderful book sitting on my bookcase not just because of the gorgeous cover and the fabulous title but because of what happens inside the pages. Jo Cotterill has written an engaging and really important book which explores war, refuges, camps and all of those difficult and often hard to truly imagine experiences that seem to happen far too much these days. The author has created one of the loveliest and most honest protagonists in Mini and this may sound slightly me ...more
Mar 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 11yr olds to 13yr olds
Recommended to Penny by: North East Book Award
Really good uplifting story, despite its subject matter.

It could be happening anywhere in the world now, and charts the changes to an ordinary family brought on by a corrupt government and their supporters, and the fear that comes when anyone steps out of line, or is the wrong sex.

Things for this family go from bad to worse and they end up separated from each other. The main character and her sister in a refugee camp struggling to survive. Having always had a very lively imagination, Amina star
Feb 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fave-books
An absolutely stunning book which can hit hard and make you cry. I know I certainly did! The author's writing is so creative and powerful in this that I think this is possibly one of the best books that I've ever read. I would recommend it to anybody that's into powerful books.

Inside Cover:

What if you had nothing left but the tales inside your head?
This is the tale of an ordinary child, just like any other, apart from the terrible times in which she lives.
This is the tale of an extraordinary ch
Oct 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: good-reads
I won a copy through Good Reads First Reads.

Amina and her family have lived under Kwana rule for so long that they have got used to their way of doing things even if underneath they don't agree with the restrictions and rules placed upon them.

When the liberating forces enter their country, Amina and her family believe the worst to be over - they believe themselves to be free of Kwana rule but the worst is yet to come. With the liberating forces comes more conflict; rebellions; public beating and
Looking at the Stars is about a 13 year old girl called Amina who lives in a place where the Kwana are in power and where women are not allowed to go to school. And just like that...

People taken from their families and killed on streets, heroism is punished in one way. Death.
This is a book about love, passion, determination and sorrow. This is a story that will make your heart race and leave you begging for more, a story for all ages that you will love.

I love these two characters.

Emma Radford
Mar 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A powerful story of hope, resilience and the power of imagination. The characters are wide ranging and so many important themes are confronted. A great way for teenagers to immerse themselves in the terrifying world of a refugee camp and the survival instincts of human nature. I totally agreed with Cotterill's reasons for using an unnamed country and really enjoyed reading the interview with her at the back, where the despairing history of Rwanda and Syria is made very accessible for all audienc ...more
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I received this book as a goodreads first reads for free and i feel gifted for winning such a treasure of a book. A truly heartbreaking tale of a family split by conflict and learning how to survive the most tragic events. It make you thankful for the freedom that you have in your own life and society, that being born a female is no longer restrictive and that you are equal. A great book that grips at your heartstrings for the two girls and the rest of the people, particularly those in the camp ...more
Beth Kemp
Jan 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-contemp
I loved this moving read and found it easy to root for Amina particularly. Although some have found this a negative, I enjoyed that it was set in an entirely fictional place, free of messy reality. I think this allows the novel to explore oppression and the refugee experience more purely, without readers being influenced by existing beliefs or assumptions about 'sides' in any particular conflict. The novel has a clear and powerful theme of storytelling and the power of the imagination, and I lov ...more
Sue Murdoch
Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I could not put this down, the sisters' struggle to survive and retain their humanity as their family is ripped apart completely engaged me. The fact that we don't know where it is set meant that my mind spiralled through Rwanda, The Balkans War, Sudan, Syria, the kidnapped Nigerian school girls - the list goes on doesn't it? Issues the girls faced were senstively described allowing a younger reader to add detail in their own minds to a degree that was comfortable for them. However, it does rais ...more
Apr 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I think this book was very touching because it explained a story about these two girls looking for their mother, little sister and why there was war going on in their country. The little sister was very brave because she wouldl always stick by her Mother no matter what. After that, Amina and her older sister fled, and went to a camp where they will be safe from the Kwana. I think this book will be touching for everyone who reads this even if they don't like books about this subject.
Erin Gowers
Oct 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldnt-finish, bad
Reading the blurb of this book got me hyped - amazing storyline, moving topic and just damn right good. I was wrong. The storyline topic was a beautiful concept although the context didn't deliver the quality I was looking for. It was a bit bland as I was stuck there for a few chapters waiting for dinnertime to be over. This wasn't my type of book and if you like action I suggest this isn't the book for you.
Mar 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
A timely story that gives insight into the refugee experience. Compassionate and deftly told, I like how the story is based on an unnamed country and conflict, amalgamated from several real ones. The characters are believable and endearing. Although shocking things happen they are depicted in a way that is haunting but not too graphic for younger readers.
Apr 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely beautiful book targeted at young adults. strongly recommended to those who want a heart wrenching and powerful and both thought provoking and captivating. It has a lot to take in. can you handle it. Looking at the Stars
ilsa ➹
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
It was a fantastic book. Amina's stories were just amazing and Jenna, her older sister, is amazingly talented at creating things. It was so sad. Really amazing!
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“The only way we can survive is to work together. Each of us must play our part. The minute we stand alone, we fall alone.” 3 likes
“The feeling of warmth and security, family and friendship. Laughter in grief. The feeling that imagination could overcome every hardship if you just tried hard enough.” 3 likes
More quotes…